TRAMPING IN CANADA
Rockies Highest PeakBy Penny Redward 20th August 2010
Berg LakeTrail. – Whitehorn Campsite: 11km. 1097m
To get to Lake Berg, 21km 1641m, you need overnight packs and tents – we were invited to do this walk before we left NZ but declined for various reasons – one thinking it was out of our range, and two because it would mean bringing all our overnight gear and tents (which we don’t have) to Canada. We decided to do part of it as a day walk and were really envious of those going on.
We went to the Whitehorn Campsite and a little further, to see how the next section looked then back again, a 23km return with a height gain of only 250m. In reality there was quite a lot of extra up and down along the way. All in all we though it was a truly beautifully walk. 7 hours on a hot summer’s day – 34degrees was forecast and it was all of that. Thunderstorms were also forecast – none of that!
Highest peak in the Canadian Rockies
The trail skirts around Mt Robson – at 3954m it is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and is a true monarch – standing out on its own with a pure white mantel of snow. It is a very popular walk and the track is generally wide and well graded, a bit like the Milford Track.
The first 4.5km is in a forested valley of mainly cedar and hemlock with an understory of plants with huge leaves, lush moss, and even some ferns – a real contrast to the wild flowers of the Kootenays we had just left. All the time the trail followed the banks of the Robson River which in the height of summer was full to capacity, roaring down the valley. Then suddenly it was still and flat – we had reached Lake Kinney the source of the river. Actually the glaciers and waterfalls ahead were the source but they are so full of glacier flour and debris that they have formed a natural dam and hence the lake.
Lake Kinney was pale green, perfectly calm and reflected Mt Robson at one end and unknown peaks (to us anyway) at the other. Another 2.5 km on we reached the first campsite area still on the banks of the lake it was a lovely spot. The camping areas have long drops and a shelter with tables and a woodfire stove – all we needed was shelter from the sun.
Large braided flat
After a brief stop we climbed for some time then descended again to the head of the lake. Here it was a large braided flat with islands between the various streams linked by low bridges to enable us to cross to the next valley – The Valley of a Thousand Falls fed by the massive Mist, Berg and Robson Glaciers. Another climb and without the cover of dense forest we had enjoyed until now, hot open sections relieved by the views back to the green Kinney Lake and ahead to sheer mountain faces littered with waterfalls.
At last a short descent, more forest and a swing bridge, constructed quite differently from those in NZ and into a pleasant valley and the Whitehorn campsite. Kinney has 14 tent pads, Whitehorn 22. Berg Lake 26 and there are another 20 odd at three other sites. Each pad clearly defined with a wood surround, bark filled and some quite close to others, it costs $10 Canadian per person per night and they are often booked well ahead. They are for sleeping only – all food preparation and eating has to be done in the shelter. It was a beautiful place, with the glacier fed river right there, ringed by mountains and waterfalls. We had a long lunch, chatted to the campers that were coming and going then wandered up the river to peer up the next valley – a huge waterfall and a very steep ascent – I still felt we would have made it even if the majority of campers seemed younger.
Bergs in the lake
We ambled back, hot and tired but very pleased to have at least got as far as we did, and to have seen another part of Canada. From the parking area we gave a young couple a lift back to the campground and they said yes there were bergs in Berg Lake – the glacier had “calved” a number of times while they were there, oh dear maybe one day…